It's A Wonderful Fairbanks Morse


Lyle Paddick, RR J, Box 320, Oblong, 111. 62449 found this engine in near original condition. Look inside for his story, 'It's A Wonderful Fairbanks-Morse.'

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RR 1, Box 320, Oblong, Illinois 62449

I woke up this morning thinking about what we were doing back about twenty years ago, and that's how this story that I'm about to tell you came about.

Paddick and Son Auction Service is located in east central Illinois, just two miles outside a small rural community called Oblong, population 1,800. At the time of this event, we had been in business for about twelve years. We were engaged in buying and selling used farm equipment, and held monthly farm machinery consignment auctions as we were still paying for the family farm. My son, Dennis, had finished school and began to work full-time in our operation.

Early one morning a long time farmer, Mr. Kirk, stopped by our business to discuss that he had decided to retire from farming and that he would like us to take a look at his machinery and tools, as he didn't feel he had enough equipment to have a public auction. Mr. Kirk wanted us to come out to his place and spend some time with him to see what we might suggest. The farm was located a few miles north of us and we told him that we would be glad to stop by that same day.

The equipment consisted of an 8N Ford tractor, including all of the three point tools, and a large inventory of old horse drawn farming equipment. After we looked over all of the machinery outside of the barn, Mr. Kirk suggested there were more things inside the barn and invited us to come in. As we walked into the barn I was immediately drawn to a wonderful looking engine, one such as I'd never seen before. It seemed to be looking at me, encouraging me to 'come take a look.' It was a Fairbanks Morse with many brass parts in excellent condition, and my instincts told me that this was a 'special' gas engine. The barn had been used for storing hay, and the dry hay had given the engine super protection from drawing dampness for years and years. I turned to Mr. Kirk and asked him, 'Do you intend to sell the engine with the other equipment?' He answered me by saying, 'I haven't any use for it now.' He continued to tell me that his father purchased it when he was a small lad. Furthermore, that it had been used previously for several years to grind feed for livestock. The grinding equipment consisted of a Litz burr mill and corn shelter all set up as a unit. We made an offer and Mr. Kirk accepted, saying that it was fine with him. Dennis and I drove back to Oblong to get the tilt-bed truck so that we could load some of the tools, but I certainly wanted this 8 HP Fairbanks Morse engine to have priority and be loaded with other things on the first trip.

Several days passed and I was in doubt about keeping this engine or selling it, and so I contacted a buyer in Indiana. I invited him to come by and see this very special engine, and he did so and left a bid. I happened to be gone that day. It was a good offer, but word had gotten around that we had purchased the engine and a day or so later, Harry Chapman, a good friend, stopped by to look it over. Harry had several engines of his own and I was eager to have his advice. After looking it over, Harry said that he could get it running with very little trouble, everything was intact and showed very little wear in the moving parts. We discovered that squirrels had carried nuts into the horizontal cylinder and the water hopper for winter storage. Mice as well had taken a fancy to this engine and had made a home within, but all it really needed was a good cleaning. The leather on the end of the spring loaded wizard mag, the mag which runs hot like a generator and rolls against the flywheel, also governs the speed of the engine, and needed to be replaced. Harry said he could make that by cutting a circle from an 8' leather scraper like he used as a 'roustabout' worker in the oil fields by forcing the scraper through the pipe with oil pressure. The leather was V4' thick, just the same as the original, and so it made it 'good as new.' A small pinhole in the gas tank required only the attention of a drop of solder and it too was fixed.

Owning this engine and finding it in original condition was the dream of a lifetime, and I have valued this opportunity and have appreciated and protected this fine example of engineering to keep it in its original condition for others to marvel at and enjoy. Once a year I do brush on a light coat of linseed oil to enhance the color and to preserve the wood. This engine is mounted on factory metal trucks; purchased at the same time were two wooden clamps that are complete with bolts and wing nuts for locking the wheels together when being used on the belt. (I didn't show them in the picture). They are for the purpose of stopping the rocking motion which a hit and miss engine has.

I have fully retired now and have turned the family farm and the used farm equipment business over to my son Dennis and his son Shawn.

I feel like I'm in heaven already when being able to show my 8 HP Fairbanks Morse gas engine. Taking care of this special engine gives me real pleasure, and how could one choose more relaxing hobbies than exhibiting antique gas engines and going fishing?

I've been told that this engine is rare. If you have any information about this type of engine or one like it, please contact me-I'd like to visit with you about it.

The date of birth of this engine is stamped on the flywheel shaft, on the right side of the engine. It is marked: 1910 Fairbanks Morse, 8 HP, 300 Rev., Serial #101469, built July 23, 1910.